Tech issue led to delay in reporting Portage absentee ballots


KALAMAZOO COUNTY, MI – A technological issue led to a delay in the reporting absentee ballots for the city of Portage in the Tuesday, Aug. 2, primary.

The city uses a high-speed ballot tabulator without a modem and then takes an encrypted USB flash drive to the Kalamazoo County Clerk to upload the data, Portage City Clerk Erica Eklov said.

The results on the USB drive would not import the Aug. 2 primary results into the system early Wednesday, Aug. 3, Eklov said. There were three sticks that were not uploading, Kalamazoo County Clerk Meredith Place said.

“This was a secure and safe election,” Place said. “The voters who voted in the city of Portage had all of their votes tabulated and recorded on election day. The results on the website are accurate, unofficial results.”

The state of Michigan told them to hand-input the numbers, Eklov said. They try to avoid manually inputting numbers because there is a risk of human error, but the Board of Canvassers review ensures no numbers were transposed, Place said.

“All the ballots and everything is secured here at City Hall,” Eklov said. “Everything was tabulated. There (were) paper results.

“It was just that the easy way of plugging their special encrypted USB into their computer couldn’t work right. But … everything came out as it should have.”

The encrypted flash drive is how unofficial results are posted onto the county’s website, so election officials had the results but were not able to post them with other results from across the county, Place said.

Paper results were posted outside Portage City Hall and the county clerk’s building, Place said. That is the plan if there are issues again in November.

There is a 30-day security window before the election vendor can look at the machines, Eklov said. After that time, they will work to make sure the same USB issue does not happen in November.

The Board of Canvassers are working to certify all county results Friday, Aug. 5, Place said. The board started meeting Aug. 3 and are expected to be done on Monday afternoon, Aug. 8 or Tuesday, Aug. 9, she said.

Place said there are “no issues with any election integrity,” and confirmed all votes across the county were tabulated.

Read all coverage of Kalamazoo County elections here.

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